Minnesotan Accents (midwest usa)

HiyaKiani   Saturday, July 19, 2003, 23:53 GMT
>>They say sneakers and tinnis shoes in California, but won't look at you weird if you say running shoes or gym shoes. <<
^^^Let me rephrase my sentance. The people in MY area, and city, say sneakers and tinnis shoes (It's sounds more like 'tinni-shoes' actually because it's said quickly), but they won't look at you weird if you say running shoes or gym shoes. (I guess I should never refer to ALL of California, then.) I do hear some kids who are into basketball say, "I'm wearing my Jordans" or "I have some Iversons at home." I always say sneakers or tinni-shoes.

>>~Liquor store instead of Party Store. If it's on a corner it's sometimes called the "corner store" (if they know which store you're reffering to.)<<

There's some residence areas that have a Liquor store in them somewhere and they are almost always on corners. (Not in suburban areas, don't get me wrong.) The people in the neighborhood would say "He's at the corner store." as much as they say, "He's at the liquor store." But they say the name of the store or liquor store if it's a place across town. (I won't get too analystic now.)

No, I don't hear tennihs around here.
HiyaKiani   Saturday, July 19, 2003, 23:54 GMT
Thanks for the info about kitty-corner, Ryan.
Rugger   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 01:09 GMT
In Melbourne, Australia, generally tennis or gym shoes/sneakers are referred to as runners (eg. "have you got a pair of runners to wear?").

Among Americans, are there any dialects that are generally more desirable than others? That is, given the many different regional accents within the USA, are there accents that are perceived as being "posh" or upper class/ more educated like there is in Britain. Also, do some of the older generation of Americans still talk with that "old holywood" style accent, which comes across as being slightly like the British RP?
Ryan   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 04:04 GMT
Rugger, the "Boston Brahmin" accent is probably considered the most high-class accent in the USA. I think this is the accent the "old Hollywood" accent was based upon. It's typified by the phrase

"Pahk my cah in Hahvahd Yahd"

As you can see, it is non-rhotic, the "r's" are not pronounced. President Kennedy spoke with this accent. Katherine Hepburn did as well, although she was technically from elsewhere in New England. Barbara Walters is a living person who speaks with this accent currently.

Most Bostonians don't speak with this accent. Most of them would say something more like:

"Pak my ca in Havad Yad"

with the a sound being more like the 'a' sound in cat.

The Brahmin accent sounds excessively high class though, which is why it is not used on the news now. A flat, non-nasal midwestern accent with all words pronounced clearly is the accent that will probably get you the furthest now. But we don't have the variety of accents that they do in the UK, nor do we discriminate against regional accents anywhere near as much as the Brits do, although some accents definitely have a stigma (like the Brooklyn New York one where they pronounce the word "learn" like "loin" and say Youse as a plural form of you.

Julian   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 04:36 GMT

The "Standard American Accent," which is based on the accent and dialect of the north-central region of the U.S., is the accent identified as most acceptable and least offensive by the majority of Americans. It is the accent that many news broadcasters, actors, and media personalities have adopted.

The New England Brahmin or Boston Brahmin accent (not to be confused with the more "bourgeois" Boston accent) is an elegant, affected, and "British-sounding" way of speaking that most Americans would now consider "uppity", "snooty", or "old-fashioned". It is the American English of Katharine Hepburn, "Major Winchester" on MASH, "Thurston Howell III" on "Gilligan's Island", and New England high society. Not surprisingly, this accent is being usurped by the various "modern" accents of area.

The old Hollywood stars were trained to speak in a manner not unlike Boston Brahmin, but I think the accent was manufactured by the old movie studios so that all their stars would have that distinct "Hollywood Accent." Nobody spoke like that in the real world.

I think for the most part, Americans don't base a person's level of education or class status on his or her accent but instead on that person's ability to speak intelligently.
Julian   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 04:40 GMT
Sorry, guys. Ryan's post wasn't there a minute ago. So now I'm just being redundant.
Rugger   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 06:18 GMT
Thanks Ryan and Julian, both of your posts were enlightening. I was always puzzled by Barbara Walters accent, I just couldn't nail it to any of the other American accents I'd heard. Any particular reason why this high-class accent is termed New England/Boston "Brahmin"? It's just that I instantly thought of Brahmin as being the Hindu god/priests.
Ryan   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 16:25 GMT
Rugger, it's just a kind of facetious name for the high society in Boston. The Brahmins are traditionally the highest caste in India, and the people who spoke the accent above were the highest "caste" in Boston.

Julian   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 17:57 GMT
Brahmin is a term (believed to have been coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes in the late 19th century) used to refer to the Boston aristocracy -- older Yankee families who controlled much of Boston's wealth and power. Members of this group saw themselves as moral leaders of the community, apart from the rest of society. This attitude moved Holmes to compare the group to the priestly class of Brahmins in India.

Originally Americanized Englishmen, the Brahmins boasted such bluebloods as the Adams, the Quincys, the Holmes, the Shattucks, the Lowells and the Cabots, many of whom became US Presidents, Boston mayors, Supreme Court Justices and attorneys, famed medical doctors, authors, and Presidents of Harvard. They were alarmed by the mass influx of Irish immigrants, whom they considered a servant race, and fled many parts of the city for the North side of Boston, known as Beacon Hill.

The Irish-Catholic Kennedys, who were gaining in affluence and political power in the Boston area, were not accepted among the Brahmins because they were not of Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock

Other notable Brahmins: the senior George Bush, and believe it or not, actor Ben Affleck.
Jeo   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 21:58 GMT
Here in Missouri, we call "tennis shoes," "runners," etc just "shoes." (if it is assumed that we're talking about casual footwear)
Clark   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 23:26 GMT
Yeah, I think that a majority of Americans simply refer to "shoes" as shoes. I think in the English-speaking world use "shoes" as well.
Rugger   Monday, July 21, 2003, 00:32 GMT
The word "shoes", which refers to all footwear, is obviously common in the English-speaking world. However, the terms used to refer to specific types of footwear vary in different parts of the English-speaking world. For example, flip-flops in Britain are generally called thongs here in Australia. Likewise, wellies (Welingtons) in Britain are known as gum boots here in Australia. "Runners" is a slang term for all running (sport) shoes. The word "shoes" is used, but people will tend to specify the type of shoes they are talking about.

eg. a parent may tell a child to put on their school shoes, sandels, runners, gum boots, thongs, etc., depending on the activity the child will partake in (i.e. going to school or playing sports or playing in the garden).
HiyaKiani   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 01:59 GMT
I remember when flip-flops were called thongs about 4-6 years ago. But now "thongs" has a new meaning...
M   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 07:33 GMT
What exactly is a standard American accent?

I'm now confused about what a standard American accent is. Most of you say it's a Midwest accent. However, I just got a book on American English pronunciation from the library. Let me quote a portion of the book here:

"The accent that this book is based on is that of college-educated speakers from the Northeast of the United States, excluding urban New York City and Boston. This accent is typically used on national television and radio news programs. Therefore, it is comprehensible throughout the United States and corresponds to the pronunciation in current American English dictionaries."

(Accurate English: A Complete Course in Pronunciation by Rebecca M. Dauer (1993) -- University of Massachusettes at Amherst)
Ashley   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 12:15 GMT
Here in Minnesota, where I live, we call shoes, "shoes" or "tennis shoes" it depends on the style i guess, i never really figured that out.